Our twentieth podcast comes from the incredible producer / DJ Soela. We have been huge fans of her mixes and productions for years so it's a real pleasure to be sharing one of her trademark mixes with you. The hour long set is a smooth ride from textural ambient beginnings all the way to liquid drum & bass, with plenty of minimal, dusty house nestled deep within. Read our interview with her to find out more about the mix, how she kept going through the pandemic and how her recent gigs have been.
Thank you so much for this incredible mix, we really love it. The way you've transitioned through different genres with such ease is really impressive. How did you select the tracks for this and what is your usual process when approaching podcasts and dj sets?
Thank you for such warm words about this mix! So, this mix was planned and spontaneous at the same time, I was collecting music for several months to follow my favourite formula of the mix: I like it when it starts with something really calm and goes more and more active and versatile. Of course, there are some artists that I love, and I include their tracks in the mixes frequently. I can name Steve O'Sullivan, Calibre, Christopher Ledger, Lawrence, and Efdemin.
The pandemic feels like its over (fingers crossed). Clubs and festivals have been open for a while now and you are back on stage playing gigs. How has the transition been for you, returning to the world of live gigs and events after such a long time away from it?
For me it doesn’t feel that the pandemic is over at all - I just canceled my gig at Doel festival in Belgium because I got coronavirus. That was truly heartbreaking because I was very excited to play my debut gig in Antwerp. The transition wasn’t easy. When I was playing in Kyiv last year I felt like the worst DJ ever - I wasn’t really able to properly work with people and did a lot of mixing mistakes. Now I’m back and feel very confident while playing because I’m constantly practicing. I feel more connected to people and can properly tell a story using the music I love.
The financial pressure caused by the pandemic was one of the hardest things to navigate. People came up with different side hustles and had to turn to other types of work to support themselves. How did you manage that time and what kept you going through those difficult years?
When the pandemic started, I lost all my work in one moment because all my work was connected to meeting people in real life. I was working as an event photographer and music teacher at school. Somehow I managed to find a proper job at the end of 2020 - I was working as a food photographer in restaurants, and it was a perfect moment because everyone wanted to deliver food (the restaurants in Germany were closed for a long time because of the pandemic). I received money from the government as well. It was only once but helped me to survive.
You released your debut album, Genuine Silk in April 2020 on the brilliant label Dial Records. We would love to know more about the album. Did you set out to create an LP initially or did it happen organically? How long did it take to write and how do you feel about it now, 2 years later?
It happened organically. I can’t do things properly if I have to if we talk about creativity. If I feel any pressure - I can’t record a proper track or make a nice remix. My album took a long time to produce - it contains the old tracks that I was trying to remix before the release, and some new ones that were produced several months before the release was approved. I can say that I was working on the album for approximately 4 years.
It still feels amazing to have such an album, I’m proud of myself because it was a big work. And, of course, I’m very thankful to Pete and David from Dial Rec. for such an amazing opportunity to be a part of this legendary label.
It looks like your first release on Spotify was Nothing EP that came out in 2017. How long did it take when you started making music before you had something you really liked and wanted to release? And what was it that lead you to music production in the first place?
I released my first EP at a German label Sub.Spiele in 2016. The thing is that I started to produce music at the end of 2015, and created my first own track in April 2016. I had a very nice teacher when I started to create music and we still grow as professionals together. I’m never confident in the music that I produce and release, so I think it makes sense to make a first step towards showing your music to people if you are a new musician. I was sending my music to labels even though I was unsure if it sounds good.
I think I have to say that I have a musical education - I’m a pianist - so it was a bit easier for me to start making music.
Your earliest tracks still sound very much your own, and your output has been so consistent and cohesive since then. Do you have a vision in your mind of how you want a track to sound before writing it, or do you just see what happens and experiment?
I have no clue what I want to do when I start! I think that’s the reason why I feel that my music is so honest - when I start to create something it rather goes well or it doesn’t work at all.
Probably, I just have some influences and references in my head, and it may sound a bit absurd but I think it’s one of the keys to creating an authentic sound and mixing style. When I was learning at music school, I played a lot of pieces written by different composers. Now, when I have my own students I show them how to play others' music and make cover versions of it because I think it sets up the right references and ideas in your head when you start to create your own things.
The selections in your mix, and all of your mixes to be honest are really diverse and interesting. There is so much good music being released all the time. Tell us about some artists and labels at the moment that you are really enjoying and recommend we check out.
Thank you very much! Sure, I’m always happy to share some nice things. I rarely use dance music as a soundtrack to life but I listen to a lot of electronic music anyways. I’m very inspired by the production of Sven Weisemann, Francis Harris, Lusine, Rising Sun, and Anton Zap. I’m being jealous if you didn’t know these guys because now you can discover tonnes of amazing music right now:)
What is a typical day, and a week in your life like at the moment?
I can’t say that I have some special schedule. I do different things every day: from cooking and cleaning the apartment to making music or playing computer games. So I can’t properly answer this question because I try to make every day a bit different :)
That leads us nicely to our last question. You live in Berlin right? Where in Berlin are you, how long have you been there, and what is your experience like of the city?
I live in Berlin since 2018th, enjoying the south-eastern part of the city :) I love this
city very much. Even though sometimes it’s tough to not be depressed here - especially in winter - I still enjoy my life in Germany. I thank this country and people from here for everything, really. I even feel emotional when writing all this and thinking of how much I achieved since I moved to Berlin! If you have never been to Berlin, I highly recommend you to visit the city, feel its culture, and history and meet amazing people from the whole world who make an amazing multicultural community here.
Listen to the Mix here:
Enjoy more from Soela